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Mechanical Properties of Eco-friendly Polymer Nanocomposites

  • Asim ShahzadEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Advanced Structured Materials book series (STRUCTMAT, volume 75)

Abstract

Biopolymers are an alternative to petroleum-based synthetic polymers that are renewable, do not contribute to environmental pollution, and are biodegradable. However, some of their properties like tensile strength, impact strength, thermal stability, and permeability are not of sufficiently high standard and must be improved. One way to improve the properties of biopolymers and thus enhance their commercial potential is to incorporate nano-sized bio-based reinforcements in the polymers. The composites thus formed are called eco-friendly polymer nanocomposites. The research in these composites has increased substantially in the last few years with a corresponding increase in research papers. These composites are finding applications in various fields like medicine, packaging, electronics, the automotive sector, and the construction industry. Polysaccharide polymers that are abundant in nature are increasingly being used for this purpose. The biopolymers most commonly used in these composites are thermoplastic starch (TPS), polylactic acid (PLA), cellulose acetate, chitosan, polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), and epoxidized plant oils. Some examples of the bio-based reinforcements used in these composites are cellulose nanowhiskers, chitin whiskers, and starch nanoparticles (SNP). Extrusion and injection molding are the most widely used methods for manufacturing of these composites. Results show that incorporation of bio-based nanoreinforcements in biopolymers results in improvement in mechanical properties of these composites. These include tensile, flexural, and impact properties. Poor dispersion and agglomeration of nanoreinforcements in biopolymers and their poor interfacial bonding are issues which impose a limit on these composites’ mechanical performance. Various physical and chemical methods for surface treatments of nanoreinforcements are used. These methods have been shown to result in improvements of mechanical properties of these composites. There are a number of other issues like sensitivity to moisture and temperature, expensive recycling processes, high variability in properties, nonlinear mechanical behavior, poor long-term performance, and low impact strength, which are hindering the development of these materials. However, as the investment and research in these materials increase, they are expected to replace many conventional materials in optical, biological, and engineering applications.

Keywords

Biopolymers Nanocomposites Cellulose Chitosan Starch Mechanical properties 

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Copyright information

© Springer India 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Materials Research Centre, College of EngineeringSwansea UniversitySwanseaUK

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